Kenneth M. Yamada, Chief
The Laboratory of Cell and Developmental Biology explores fundamental questions concerning the mechanisms of morphogenesis, tissue organization, cellular function and differentiation, and cancer. Researchers focus on initiating new research breakthroughs to (a) understand the mechanisms of normal and abnormal craniofacial development and function at genetic, molecular, and cell biological levels, (b) characterize related processes in tissue repair and cancer, c) discover novel genes, biologicals, and biomimetics relevant to diagnosis, repair, and therapy, and d) develop biologically based methods to replace or regenerate tissues that are defective or damaged. Particular emphasis is placed on research characterizing the interactions between cells and extracellular molecules. Projects in the LCDB include identification of mechanisms of morphogenesis, characterization of the gene regulation, organization, and function of extracellular matrix molecules and their receptors, and analysis of signaling pathways from the cell surface to the nucleus. These ongoing basic research innovations will provide the basis for novel translational and patient-oriented applications. Our internal mission statement for nearly two decades states: "Our goal is to try to do the most conceptually important, highest quality, exciting research possible to understand the functions and regulation of extracellular matrix and cell surface interactions, with an emphasis on discovering the underlying biological mechanisms and regulatory processes of embryonic development and diseases. We encourage the development of independent researchers, at least some of whom we expect to become future leaders in the field." This latter commitment includes allowing postdoctoral fellows to take their projects with them if they wish, in order to facilitate the launching of their careers. The Laboratory publishes extensively, and a previous Blue Ribbon Panel analysis of citation frequency indicated that the Laboratory rate was substantially above the average for NIH. The Laboratory has discovered and created many new concepts and novel reagents, such as new genes, antibodies, extracellular matrix components, and bioactive peptides of value to biomedical research. It provides them to hundreds of investigators in the U.S. and abroad yearly.